Sunday, October 15, 2017


 Trees Grow in Brooklyn, oil, 6x8" 9/2017


Playing catch-up here on my long neglected blog!  Has been a hectic but creative time.

      My flight from Maine to Sarasota, Florida was cancelled at JFK because of hurricane Maria.  My daughter was able to pick me up and I had a delightful, unexpected visit with family in Brooklyn.  Thankful for the safe harbor during the storm!  Took two weeks to get a flight back home, unless it was an emergency, and it wasn't. 

Meanwhile in Englewood, Florida…  John, our 95 year old friend Angie, and our dog Shadow sailed through the hurricane without any damage except for one tree down and a torn screen door.  House isn't in a flood zone, far enough inland,  and with 16' elevation… almost a mountain.    Power stayed on!  

The painting above, Trees Grow in Brooklyn, was painted from my daughters kitchen window.  I loved this birds-eye view from the sixth floor.  

I had committed to the Strada Easel 30 Challenge, a painting a day from life, and also the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge led by Leslie Saeta of Artists Helping Artists.  Worked out well during my visit to Maine and Brooklyn, then finished back home in Florida.  Finished both at the same time.

I find these challenges useful for sharpening skills and motivation.  Now doing 31 pastels for Gail Sibley's How To Pastel blog and loving it! 

 View from Jana's Office, 5x8" watercolor/gouache
 Yummy Taco, 5x8" gouache.  Another kitchen window view.
 Prospect Park, 5x8"gouache.  Park bench view.  Fed ducks here when I was four.
 Water Song, 5x8" gouache.  On the next park bench, a Hasidic Jew sang prayers softly to the water for the hour I painted.  I feel blessed to have experienced it.  
 View from Redhook, 5x8" gouache.  Delightful watching sailboats on a Sunday morning!
My grandfather was a dock master here many years ago.
 Looking East, 5x8" gouache.  This light effect out the living room window was fleeting during sunset.  Painted from life and snapshot.  Love the different styles of architecture and neighborhoods.
Greenwood Cemetery, 5x8" gouache.  Huge contemporary bronze statue, strong emotional feel of grief.  Magnificent work of art.  This cemetery is alive with history and angels.  My daughter and I visited our ancestors… a moving walk.

Gouache tip:  It helps to "seal" the paper first with casein or acrylic.  The gouache above had an ochre casein underpainting which shows through and gives the work a harmonious feel.  It's a mid-value tone, so the darks and lights were easier to judge.  Another reason to seal the paper is it helps the gouache stay on top, rather than sinking in.  

It's a difficult medium at first but well worth getting to know.  It's possible to paint an terrible watercolor and save it with gouache.  Wonderful for sketchbook studies and travel.  All you need to get started are regular watercolors and one tube of white gouache.  Gouache can be rewet and reworked.  When it dries on the palette can be rewet and used again.  Can also be placed on a wet paper towel to keep it fresh while painting.  The only way to learn how to use it is by painting a lot!  Try 30 paintings… tip, keep them small!  

 Please Google James Gurney's knowledge of this medium!  

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